Book Review: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History
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Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History
Hardcover | Kindle
By Michael Klastorin
Foreword by Steven Spielberg
Publisher: Harper Design | HarperCollins
Release date: October 24, 2017

Forty years ago, coming off the monumental success of blockbuster hit Jaws, director Steven Spielberg took theatergoers on a stunning ride into the unknown with the sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The film earned Spielberg the first of seven Academy Award nominations for Best Director (of which he won twice). Overall, the film it earned eight nominations, winning for Best Cinematography (Vilmos Zsigmond). Now four decades later, Michael Klastorin has compiled the ultimate fan-guide to one of Spielberg’s essential masterpieces with Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History, releasing this week from Harper Design.

Klastorin has turned a film known for its scope and beauty into the prized gift for the holiday for any film lovers you know. The hardcover book features near 200 pages of color photos, behind the scenes stories, production stills, and interactive elements like script pages, spaceship drawings, and storyboards. The foreword is written by Spielberg himself, delivering a simple yet elegant message. Close Encounters is his “most personal film,” one of the few he both directed and wrote and the first of many where he introduced audiences to extraterrestrial life.

On the film’s most memorable location, we read the story of Joe Alves, Spielberg’s production designer traveling 3,500 miles around the country looking for the perfect spot for the monolith, dubbed “Wamsutter Mountain” in the original script. Eventually he found Devil’s Tower, the epic near-1,300 foot mount of igneous rock located in northeast Wyoming. There are some funny stories about the casting, my favorite involved first choice for Roy Neary, Steve McQueen reading the script and turning it down over beers with the director, telling him the script made his tear up, and he never cried in a film before. Richard Dreyfuss was working late finishing last-minute scenes for Jaws (1975) and eventually he’d start helping Spielberg before outright lobbying him for the part, going so far as to “badmouth every actor in Hollywood.” Wanting the film to have global implications, Spielberg hired one of his idols, French director Francois Truffaut to play Claude Lacombe.

For this immersive and gorgeous book, Klastorin (who also penned the equally amazing Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History) takes you every step of the way through one of the legendary pieces of sci-fi cinema, detailing the epic score by John Williams, groundbreaking special effects, and of course, the aliens themselves and their mothership models. If you are a fan of Close Encounters, a Spielberg devotee, or simply a film buff, this is the must-own holiday gift for you. It works as a conversation piece or coffee-table book, and makes a perfect supplement to the film itself. I imagine screening the film for my kids and then going page for page with them through this book.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History is available in stores and online Tuesday, October 24, 2017. It retails for $50, but Amazon currently has it for $34; it’s also available digitally for the Kindle for $29.99.

Celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind with this fully authorised behind-the-scenes book exploring the creation, production, and legacy of this iconic film. Created in conjunction with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Visual History details the complete creative journey behind the making of the film and examines its cultural impact. Featuring rare and never-before-seen imagery from the archives, the book brings together a stunning collection of on-set photography, concept art, storyboards, and more to create a visual narrative of the film’s journey to the big screen. It also features a wealth of insightful commentary from every key player involved in the film, from the acclaimed director himself to the film’s stars and the key department heads who brought Spielberg’s vision to life.Special inserts and interactive elements include script pages, call lists, concept sketches, and more. Comprehensive, compelling, and filled with unseen treasures, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History is a fitting tribute to one of history’s most iconic films.

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